Sunday, March 25, 2007

On Memory, Part 2

The premise of this post is that we all have a story. I find myself wanting to collect the bits of stories that are a part of my past and my family's past and humanity's past. Then I'm not quite sure what to do with them.

Ironically, my reading lately has spoken to this very thought.

“There were other parts of the tale that none of them would be able to piece together, of course, for some of the narrative had been lost, some of it had been purposely forgotten.”
-Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss, page 31

It is hard for me to accept losing the narrative. Love of story takes over my brain and I wonder if forgetting (or not telling) our narratives is ever a good thing. The most poetic moments of life are found tucked into the small details.

This is a theme that I keep coming across in the books I’m reading. I just need to throw it out there…to use typing as a means of processing. Just know that these thoughts may not be coherent; they may just pose more questions.

“Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.” Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God, page 1.

Not being paralyzed by one’s past is a good thing. Moving forward with courage is admirable. Perhaps this asserts a freedom that allows people to truly live. The pattern I’ve noticed in myself is that I remember nostalgically—somehow a lot of the pain has faded. Bitterness and the inability to forgive trap the present and the future with the past.

“Ashes have no weight, they tell no secrets, they rise too lightly for guilt; too lightly for gravity, they float upward and, thankfully, disappear.
These years were blurry for many, and when they came out of them, exhausted, the whole world had changed, there were gaps in everything—what had happened in their own families, what had happened elsewhere, what filth had occurred like an epidemic everywhere in the world that was now full of unmarked graves—they didn’t look, because they couldn’t afford to examine the past. They had to grasp the future with everything they had.
One true thing Jemubhai had learned: the human heart can be transformed into anything. It was possible to forget if not essential to do so.” –Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss, page 338.

Here are my questions: If we forget everything that was bad, how can we shape the future? If I see pain and then forget about it, how can I help it cease? If we, as a people, forget what we know has happened, does that help us move forward? Is it different for individuals versus the collective? Can we move on from hurt, but still gain from the scars?

I am haunted by that excerpt from The Inheritance of Loss on so many levels: personally, globally, spiritually. I guess the idea of the human heart being transformed into anything is a scary thought. I kind of think that’s why it’s important to remember. Aye.

No comments: